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Well, you know what really pisses me off? The brain-meltingly stupid anti-science, anti-education, anti-competence, and anti-reality movement currently infesting conservative populist politics. I cannot even wrap my head around a bunch of people who genuinely prize ignorance.

I've had enough of this nonsense, and I suspect you have too. To that end, I introduce a weekly diary series: The Inoculation Project.

— Hyperbolic Pants Explosion, in her inaugural Inoculation Project diary, a group she founded in honor of her 41st birthday.

Syringe fitted with needle. Scale in ml. Cropped
Last week I kicked off what I hope is a semi-regular series, Positively awesome stuff found on Daily Kos (I’m thinking of it as PAS for short, my friends). I pointed out the cool, the offbeat, the inspiring, that I found on the site during the previous couple of weeks. Then I invited users to list the stuff they’d found on the site in comments; it turned into a lovefest and collaborative endeavor.

One of the first few commenters, tgypsy, brought to everyone’s attention the incredible Inoculation Project, a group founded in 2009 by hyperbolic pants explosion to "gather weekly to combat the anti-science push in conservative America by providing direct funding to science and math projects in red state classrooms."

In other words, let's inoculate students in red states against the hard right ideologue budget cuts that want kids growing up thinking Jesus rode dinosaurs and that we’d all be happy as little righteous clams if only Eve hadn’t eaten that nasty apple.

For practical, specific action, you couldn’t ask for a better project. The funding device is through DonorsChoose, an awesome entity in its own right, which vets classroom projects and pleas from teachers nationwide, categorizes them and provides easy tools to donate to specific projects. {Here’s a brief video on DonorsChoose if you want to learn more.)

After I heard about the project, I emailed belinda ridgewood and nervousnellie, who’ve taken over running the group from hyperbolic pants explosion. They discussed their methods, hopes, challenges and successes in a great email exchange, explaining that the two of them ran across the series in 2010 and became enthusiastic supporters—and ultimately admins—of the group as Hyperbolic Pants Explosion stepped back. The two admins have brought on nomandates to help out this year, and the group is racking up some pretty impressive landmarks along the way, one or two projects each week at a time. They say:

Our regular audience has grown steadily, and the Inoculation Project is  about to fund its 200th project overall (big party planned)! Since we've taken over, our donors have helped push 83 projects over the finish line. On any given Sunday we raise anywhere from $85 to $200+. The beauty of the diaries is that someone can donate any amount, from a dollar on up, and still feel that they've helped an embattled teacher who can't cover everything out of his or her own pocket. And those who can't spare anything that week can still play, by reccing or republishing, sharing on Facebook or Twitter, or just stopping by to enjoy the teachers' creativity.
Both admins have backgrounds and interest in science. Nervousnellie is a biochemistry professor in a basic science department, and she tends to gravitate toward selecting projects at the middle school and high school levels that "feature hypothesis driven experiments or need a piece of equipment or software that will allow a high poverty classroom to compete successfully with their more affluent counterparts." Belinda has a humanities degree and works in software development, but comes to science and math with the avid love of an amateur, fostered by her father:
My dad's a retired engineer from Michigan; this winter I picked a physics  project building mousetrap cars in Detroit, mainly to entertain him. He donated, and was tickled to get the kids' thank-you letters. Once we picked some owl-pellet projects so as to do a joint Dawn Chorus diary with lineatus, who built us a beautiful photo diary  and gave it the best title ever—Kids Love Owl Puke. And our still-open project right now, picked by nomandates, is part 8 of an effort to rebuild the agricultural sciences program at the Joplin, Missouri, high school destroyed last year by an EF5 tornado.
The combination of personal interest in the topics, the commitment to excellence, the spirit of fun and community engendered in the diaries, really makes this group project one of the most Positively Awesome things at Daily Kos, and the group could really use—and would welcome—new participants from the wider DK community so its regulars don’t go broke funding these classrooms! (Or at least, more users will cheerfully go broke together!)

Diaries go up each Sunday at 10 AM ET/7 AM PT. Go ahead and add the group to your stream if you can’t make the live posting; group fun continues in the comments there off and on all day and often into Monday.

Please continue with me below the fold as I point to some more Positively Awesome Stuff created by Daily Kos community members this week. And I beg you—point the rest of us to diaries, groups and series you think are positively awesome. Because I was obsessed with the health care decision this week, I didn’t get around to reading as many diaries as I usually do, so I’m sure I missed plenty of items. Or just pitch some of your regular favorites to the rest of the community—after all, that’s how I ran across the Inoculation Project in the first place.

[Below the fold, people! Below the fold!]

Some self-promotion (always welcome!) in last week’s PAS diary led us to:

Those were some of the self-promoted diaries last week (again, always welcome!). I also ran across a few other delights to bake into the Awesome Cake:

  • A cool diary, Fading Fast, by Green Mother, that looked at monarch butterfly migrations and habitat, bug hunting and changing patterns (with bee-yoo-tee-full photos as a bonus).
  • Gordon, Faye and FDR, an inspiring post by jim in IA on two voter registration volunteers who were born in the 1920s and are out there getting trained to sign people up to get to the polls in Iowa come November. Their personal stories and journeys are well worth a read.
  • Asteroids!, part of the Getting to Know Your Solar System series by Troubador. Some serious in-depth teaching going on in this series. You’ll come out of this diary feeling like you attended a master course on astronomy. Really. Check it out. Positively Awesome Stuff.
  • Several great diaries had photos from Gay Pride events. I’m sure I missed others, so please add any you ran across in comments so we can all check them out. Eddie C did his usual incredible photo thing and covered New York City for us. San Francisco events were captured by l3m0n in the diary, Occupride, with more photos from the same city shared in Top Comments by Steveingen.
  • And to round the awesomeness off with a group, I found Theatricals, with the self-description:
    Everything theatrical: from Broadway to off-off-Bway, to touring productions, to small-town "Let's put on a show!" stuff -- feel free to bring it here. Get your greasepaint and prepare to party! And be nice to everybody.
    The group has a nice series going, Monday Night at the Theater, with plenty of discussion. Recent posts have focused on actress Sutton Foster; the play, Bell, Book and Candle; the musical, Chicago; and Into the Woods. The guiding spirit behind the group is Youffraita.

Your turn! What Positively Awesome Stuff have you run across at Daily Kos lately? Let us know in comments!

Originally posted to Susan Gardner on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by J Town and Cranky Users.

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